Morrow Report: Baker committed 15 policy violations

Search for new police chief begins Monday

Former Morrow Police Chief Jeff Baker was notified Friday his recent driving under the influence arrest constituted violations of four city policies and guidelines of the city’s loss prevention program, according to documents released by the city.

In all, the city determined that Baker committed 15 violations of Morrow’s personal conduct, city vehicle use, safety, and substance abuse policies, as well as the loss prevention program, a city investigation report shows.

The former police chief tendered his resignation late Thursday afternoon, as it became increasingly evident he was likely facing termination. Baker wrote in his resignation letter that he was stepping down from his position with “a heavy heart.”

City Manager Jeff Eady formally accepted Baker’s resignation on Friday, records show. “You must surrender all city documents, and property in your possession, including, but not limited to, keys, city ID’s, weapons, uniforms, etc.,” Eady wrote in a letter presented to Baker during their meeting.

“You are further instructed not to have any contact with City of Morrow employees, direct, or indirect, which attempts to negatively influence, or interfere, with daily operations, employee morale, or good public service of the city.”

The city’s report shows that Baker’s behavior was deemed by Eady to be “reckless, careless” and “hazardous,” under city policies. It also showed the circumstances that culminated in the former police chief’s arrest on Nov. 16, constituted “other activity, which is not compatible with good public service.”

Eady, in his findings, cited Baker for using a city-owned vehicle for personal use, being asleep at the steering wheel of the vehicle at an intersection, swerving back and forth in lanes of traffic, speeding, and having containers of alcohol in the vehicle.

The city manager also cited Baker for “willful disobedience of directions and instructions necessary to the city’s operation,” by driving around one of his own officers, after the officer asked him to turn off the car’s engine, and exit the vehicle.

The former police chief also is facing legal charges of DUI, running a red light, impeding traffic, open container, driving too fast for conditions, improper lane change and failure to obey a person directing traffic, in connection with his Nov. 16 arrest.

Baker could not be reached for comment.

The release of the city’s records comes as officials prepare to begin a search for Baker’s replacement. A job description for the position was posted on its web site on Friday. The city will begin accepting applications on Monday, and continue accepting them until Jan. 15, 2012.

Eady said he will gather a group of, at least, three current and former police chiefs to review the applications with him, and narrow the field to three to five candidates for interviews. The panel could include police chiefs from the metro-Atlanta area, as well as chiefs from other parts of the state.

A recommendation for the next police chief could go to Morrow’s mayor and city council as soon as early February, Eady said. “We’re going to look for the best-qualified candidates, who are the best fit for Morrow, and then, we’ll make a recommendation to the mayor and council,” he said.

Law enforcement officials must have at least 12 years of police service, including eight years of “progressive supervisory experience” to apply for the job, according to the city’s job description. They must also have at least a bachelor’s degree in police science, police administration, law enforcement management, or related disciplines, but city officials pointed out candidates with master’s degrees are preferred.

Candidates also must have graduated from a nationally recognized law enforcement training program, such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Academy, the University of Louisville’s Southern Police Institute, or the Georgia Department of Public Safety’s Command College.

Eady said the salary for the position is negotiable, based on qualifications. Actual remuneration will be determined by the mayor and city council. As a department head, the chief’s salary range would probably be $70,000 to $90,000 a year, he added.

Morrow Police Capt. Greg Tatroe has been the department’s acting chief since Nov. 17. He could not be reached comment on Friday.